Baby Yoda sad… Investors weren’t chanting “Hakuna Matata” after Disney’s quarterly earnings. Mickey’s biz hasn’t quite rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Last quarter, sales jumped to $18.5B (compared to $19.1B for the same quarter back in 2019). Worse, Disney’s profits were less than 25% of what they were pre-Covid. While Space Mountain is back, Disney’s Parks and Experiences unit disappointed on profit big time. Streaming did not save the day…
- Disney minus: Disney+ gained 2.1M subscribers, the smallest rise since it launched two years ago and less than half what Netflix added.
- Frozen audience: CEO Bob Chapek said Disney+ is still on track to hit 230M to 260M subs by 2025, but some investors worry growth is tapping out.
- FYI: Disney’s media biz, including streaming and cable, now makes up 70% of its sales.
From Belle to betting… Now that’s a pivot. Chapek said “sports betting is a very significant opportunity” for Disney, and the company is pursuing it “aggressively” through its ESPN brand. ESPN has suffered as millennials continue cord-cutting, and streamer ESPN+, like Disney+, is still losing money. Gambling could be a lucrative way for Disney to attract young sports fans.
- ESPN has reportedly had talks with sportsbooks, including DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment , to license its famous name for a whopping $3B.
- ESPN already has sports-betting contenton its platforms through marketing deals, but licensing could create an ESPN-branded betting platform.
Some vices might be losing taboo status…According to Disney’s research, gambling won’t hurt Disney’s brand but will strengthen ESPN’s. Chapek said gambling doesn’t have the same rep it did a decade ago. Thirty-two US states have legalized sports betting, and this week New York approved online-betting licenses for nine operators. Yet shares of sports-gambling companies tell a different tale: DraftKings, Penn National Gaming , and FanDuel owner Flutter